By Bella Harnick
South is no East High. Unlike High School Musical, there are no spontaneous dance numbers, no duets in the cafeteria, no basketball players breaking out into song. However, senior Vanna Qing does come pretty close to living the High School Musical dream. After school every day of the week, you can find Qing “bopping to the top” right in the middle of the main hall.
While students head to their afterschool activities, Qing heads to the front entrance and turns the music up. She dances freely to the beat, and soon enough, others join in, followed by a crowd that gathers around the dancers.
Qing believes that her tradition of dancing in the hall started as a result of Cultural Heritage Night. Qing said, “For Cultural Heritage Night, everyone normally takes over the halls. And then I thought, wow, the hallway is a great way for people to see me and my friends dance. Also, we use the art showcases as mirrors. The front hall is the only place that has a reflective surface like that.”
Qing’s love for dancing in public started at the age of three when she lived in China. Whenever Qing went to the grocery store, her mom would find her dancing through the aisles. Noticing her daughter’s love for dance, Qing’s mother decided to enroll her daughter in a traditional Chinese folk dance class.
Qing made the transition from Chinese folk dance to hip-hop when she moved to America two years ago. “My love for hip-hop started through watching hip-hop videos on YouTube. I would watch these videos every day; I even promised myself that I would one day dance like the dancers in those videos. Now here I am trying to fulfill that dream,” said Qing.
While Qing has taken traditional Chinese folk dance classes, she has never taken any classes to learn hip-hop. “I think there are some very cool classes in the city that I could take, but they are very expensive and difficult for me to get to. Also, I want to challenge myself and see how far I can go by only watching videos,” said Qing.
Qing has especially found such videos helpful when coming up with the choreography. However, before she can start choreographing, she must pick the “right” song. Qing defines the “right” song as one “that you hear and immediately want to dance to.” Additionally, she said, “I like to close my eyes and see if I can picture myself dancing to that song. If it passes my tests, then let the choreographing begin.”
Over the past two years, dancing has become Qing’s favorite activity. “Dancing makes me feel confident. What’s so cool is that with each dance genre, I get to experience a whole new me. Dancing is an opportunity for me to be myself while simultaneously being someone else,” she said. Qing has shown off her dance moves not only in the main hall but also at South’s Coffee Houses, musicals, Cultural Heritage nights, operas, and fashion shows.
Because of Qing’s love for dancing, she does not feel nervous when performing on stage. She said, “I see being on stage as an opportunity to show the school my passion. Also, when people watch me, I get more energy, and that makes me perform better.”
As for the future, Qing hopes to have many careers; she wants to start off as a professional dancer and later work in film. Science teacher Ms. Nicole Spinelli helped her to realize that this dream could become a reality. Qing said, “Ms. Spinelli was a professional dancer, and now she’s a physics teacher, which is so cool. I feel like if Ms. Spinelli can do it, so can I. In the end, I just want to be happy about what I’m doing and how I’m living, and I think that a career in the arts can provide that for me.”